Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our Veggie Garden: Playing in the Dirt Part I

Oh, my. What did we take on??? Its hard to tell, but that is the start of a vegetable and herb garden! Josh and I tossed around the possibility of starting a garden casually in conversation a few times: There is no good place to put it. Our soil isn't that great. Rodents are tearing up our grass, I can only imagine what they would do to a garden.... We pretty much talked ourselves out of it.

Then came Earth Day: Home Depot had a sale on plants (B1G1 Free!!), and the next thing I know, we are filling up our trunk with a cartful of starter plants and seed packets. Oh, I guess we are really doing this! I wanted to chronicle our gardening adventures for 2 reasons: 1. If it works, I want to remember what we did for next year; and 2. If we do get some good veggies and herbs out of this, then I guess anyone can do it, and I may even inspire some of you to try. These chronicles ended up on this blog because 1. We are growing veggies, so it is food related; and 2. I will undoubtedly lose a notebook by next year. So, bear with me through these posts!

What you need to know about gardening: nothing. We didn't. I read a few things here and there, but Josh and I are mostly just figuring this out as we go along. We'll see how it works, and I'll try to share what we've learned along the way.

Getting started:

In Michigan, its still too early to plant outside. But, we've gotten a head start on things, and here is what we have done so far:

1. We decided to create a raised bed garden. This will allow us to control/improve the soil used, and put it anywhere we want. (Post to come later on how to build a raised bed, when we actually figure out how to build it.)

2. Decide where its going - you need to pick a place with quite a bit of sunlight. We found a spot in our front yard that is mostly protected by some bushes, but still gets a lot of sun. We put down a tarp (the tarp is only 3'x6') to try and kill the grass underneath. The grass isn't dying yet, maybe this is a good thing.

3. Decide how big your garden is going to be. We are going to build a 4'x8' bed. We came up with that just because. You could make a detailed list of what you want to grow and determine what size you need. Or you can wing it like us. I'll let you know how that works out.

4. Get your plants. You can buy seed packets, or starter plants. We did some of each. We did absolutely no research ahead of time - we stood in Home Depot going: "What about this?" "Oh, this looks good!" "We definitely need bell peppers." "Hmm... Who knew there were so many kinds of green beans. Whats the difference. I don't know, just pick one." "Oh, lets try watermelon!" So yeah... we probably have more than we have space for, but we'll figure that out later.

Seed packets: Summer squash (Golden zucchini and Fordhook zucchini), Watermelon, Green Onion, Green beans (Fordhook and Tenderpick), Cucumber, Spinach, Lettuce, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro, and Dill.
Starter plants (no - we aren't growing weed in our basement....): Red bell pepper (x2), Yellow bell pepper, Green bell pepper, Orange bell pepper, Roma tomato (x2), Grape tomato (x2), Beefmaster tomato (x2), and Jalapeno pepper. (I see some salsa in our future....)
5. Start your seeds. We live in Michigan. It is still too cold to start our garden outdoors, so right now we are babying our plants in the basement. We also needed to start the seeds growing so that once we are ready to plant outdoors, we can transplant sprouts and hope for an earlier and longer harvest.

We bought these Jiffy-Pots to plant the seeds in. There are 26 peat-moss pots to a pack.
I used some of the compost and some leftover potting soil to get the seeds started.
I put the mini pots in disposable containers and labeled the edge with a Sharpie so I know what each one is. We planted the seeds on April 25, and we already have quite a few sprouts. The plants live in the basement right now since its still chilly at night. When its nice and sunny out, Josh brings all of the containers outside for the day to get some direct sunlight. (This is their home in the basement. Please ignore our box pile.)
6. Get dirt. We don't have all the dirt we need yet, but Bay City was giving away free compost for Earth Day, so we headed down and loaded up approximately 15-18 cubic feet of compost. We'll talk dirt when I figure out what else we need. (One container is missing from this picture since I had it outside filling the small pots.)

So that's where we are today. The next step is to get our raised bed built and filled. Oh, and to keep these seedlings alive and thriving!

Cost so far:
Compost: Free; +$5 donation to Little Leaguers for helping us shovel and load it
Plants (12): $19.38 (They were on sale B1G1 free)
Seed packets (14): $7.89 (These were all 50% off)
Jiffy pots (1 pack): $1.99

Total to date: $34.26

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog. Have you checked out ? Lots of food gardeners and locavores there that would appreciate your work.